Sure, you can run 5k in under 25:00. Yes, your kid can do "Fran" in under 4:00, and your OTHER kid is on the Honour Roll (you even have the bumper sticker!)
Does the athleticism of one outweight the academic studliness of the other? Which is more important in the long run? Which will deliver greater social benefits? Which child is closer to self-actualization?
One of the main tenets we stress when we're talking to teachers is this: EVERYONE is great at SOMETHING. If you can find a student's Bright Spot quickly, they'll be more willing to practice things at which they're weaker.
Let an athletic student with a low grade score show off their squat proficiency before a math exam. Conversely, let a book-lover do a reading comprehension demonstration in front of the class…and put equal weight on both.
When you're ready to move on to mixed challenges, though, that combine things like reasoning, memory, argument, logic, or spatial awareness WITH simple exercises….you have a lot of options.
On Easter Sunday this year, our kids got new puzzles. We moved a play table outside, mixed up all the pieces, and set a cone thirty feet away. The kids had to run around the cone, carrying one or two puzzle pieces, and then fit them into the puzzle before picking up the next and running with them.
- Puzzle pieces could all be set facing up
- The six-year-old could carry two puzzle pieces at a time; the three-year-old could only carry one
- Puzzle difficulty was chosen to make sure the race was close, regardless of who won
- Mom and dad could help keep the pieces on the table, but NOT suggest where they went.
- Both kids had to wear rubber boots (the younger one won't take his off because they have motorcycles on them.)
Despite numerous oversized-boot-inducing wipeouts, the three-year-old won. In round two, though, the six-year-old was allowed to start with all her pieces sorted, and that made the difference for her.
Novel challenges can be created simply by changing the context. Both of my kids like puzzles; adding the outdoor and running elements altered the context enough to make the challenge interesting and new.
Today, take a brain-based challenge – word search? – and a physical challenge – burpees? – and add them together. Post your own game below: